Payments of a Hearth Tax were required in England from 1662-1689 and it was the occupiers who were liable for this tax and not the owners. The most complete record for Cornwall is the 1664 Hearth Tax which lists the occupants and the number of hearths they had. A tax of 2 shillings had to be paid for each hearth in two instalments – Lady Day (25th March) and Michaelmas Day (29th September). Although the poorest people were exempt, they were often included in the returns with their poor status noted.
Two shillings is 10 pence in today’s currency and using the calculator at http://www.measuringworth.org/ukearncpi/ might be equivalent to a tax of £153 per year per radiator in a centrally heated house!
Common abbreviations used in the returns are as follows:
ex examinatur - meaning it has been checked
[o.]t.o. [or] the occupants
r.o.p. reason of poverty
This work is a transcription of a transcription and is therefore open to human error. As always the original documents should be consulted. The original Hearth Tax Returns are held in the Public Record Office and the transcription was carried out by T.L. Stoate from the E179 roll reference 244/44. The transcriptions are included in our website with kind permission of the Leonard Laity Stoate Charitable Trust.
Source: "Cornwall Hearth and Poll Taxes" edited and published by T L Stoate 1981